We are the Trail Jesters
I have been waiting for the right time to update everyone on Ben Kelley. Some of you may know that Ben broke his right wrist during moto training on Sunday November 13. This was the day after he won his second JDay Offroad Sprint Enduro championship. It’s the kind of wrist break riders dread most … the scaphoid bone. This is the break can end a racers career and so not to be taken lightly. After medical consultation and getting advice from his coaches Ben elected for surgery to pin the bone to better enable a complete healing.
The surgery went well and Ben’s wrist was immobilized to let the healing process begin. Ben changed to an off the bike only training program but obviously couldn’t do anything at all with his right arm. It took more than 3 months until the doctor released Ben to begin riding and able to race with a custom wrist brace (the kind Justin Barcia has worn in SX/MX). Only 12 days to get back on the bike and be ready to line up at GNCC round 1 in Union, SC.
Ben’s new 2017 KTM 250 XC-F bikes were ready to go and so he did 2 days of suspension testing in NJ. He couldn’t really run at his normal pace at all but at least Gilles from GTR Suspension could get the new cone valve forks dialed in. Ben then headed to South Carolina to stay with friends and try to get some woods riding time in. He did get in two days of trail riding but the pain stopped him from pushing too hard or training for long periods on the bike.
The weekend came and it was time to go GNCC racing. None of us really knew how he would fair or even if he would last the whole 3 hour race. Ben got a good start (6th off the line) but steadily moved backward the first lap. He settled in running in 13th place XC2 and about 30th overall. As the 2 hour mark passed we noticed Ben standing in his “attack” position and pushing. So we all (jesters crew was placed around the track) started to signal him to push harder and chase a group of XC2 riders about 30 seconds ahead of him. It was amazing to watch him charge and pick off the places. These weren’t easy passes either, at that point in a race no one is just moving over to let you by for position. We saw some good bar to bar action as he moved up. In the final hour Ben passed forward 7 places in XC2 and 4 in XC1 those last 2 laps to finish 6th XC2 & 18th overall.
When he got off the bike he was clearly not that fatigued … just had a lot of wrist pain and pretty bad blisters on both hands. Ben had fought arm pump the first hour of the race … we believe it had to do with compensating for the right wrist injury. My take from this is he will race himself up to speed in the coming weeks and it’s just a matter of time before the pain subsides and his arm strength and wrist flexibility returns.
We want to thank Antti Kallonen, Brooks Hamilton and KTM North America for their support and guidance these past few months. Thanks also to Steve Hatch for the mental and physical coaching, on the bike and off, to help get Ben back in the game.
Here we go … we are ready to race!
February 19, 2017 was the start of the JDay Off Road season in New England. The legendary Southwick Motocross 338 facility would produce some sand, snow, ice, frozen ground, mud, ruts, extreme slippery telephone poles and a whole lot more for a challenging track layout. The temperatures were and in the 50’s, so a mild day with a clear skies made for a great day racing.
Chapter Two of Trail Jesters is all about expanded rider support for our New England rippas. Our new program structure and the six rider Trail Jesters KTM Racing team was announced in late December. We also had the opportunity to provide a broader range of support for some of our young guns by helping them gain new sponsors and additional support. To this end in January we announced the formation of the new P27/Trail Jesters Off Road Race Team. This new Yamaha centered team is managed by Paul Goyette with riders Kevin Messina and Parker Goyette signed on for 2017.
So now it’s time to get the final piece of the puzzle in place.
Yesterday Jason Raines announced the formation of the Raines Riding University/Atlas Yamaha/Off Road Viking/Trail Jesters team for 2017. This GNCC team is comprised of four talented up and coming riders contesting the XC2 Pro Lites, A250 and A200 classes. Click here for the full press release.
In this context today we announce a new Trail Jesters Athlete.
- Zack Toth – Zack is the 2016 NETRA A250 Hare Scrambles champion. Zack is 16 years old and becomes a Yamaha bLU cRU Amateur racer riding for the Raines Riding University/Atlas Yamaha/Off Road Viking/Trail Jesters team. Zack will ride a Yamaha YZ 250X while contesting the entire GNCC series in A250 class. Zack will also race select NETRA and JDay Offroad events.
I have to say I’m stoked for Zack to get this opportunity and can’t wait to see him to raise his game at the GNCC amateur level in 2017.
Ross Mauri, Head Jester
Having announced our new program structure and the six rider Trail Jesters KTM Racing team, there is one more element to put in place for 2017. The opportunity presented itself to provide a broader range of support for some of our young guns by helping them gain new sponsors and additional support.
In this context today we announce two new Trail Jesters Athletes.
- Kevin Messina – Kevin earned two #1 plates in 2016, the JDay Offroad GP Big Wheel and JDay Offroad Sprint Enduro Big Wheel championships. Kevin is 16 years old and will ride a Yamaha YZ 125 in the JDay Offroad Junior class and in JDay Sprint Enduro A200 class. Kevin will also contest select NETRA and GNCC events.
- Parker Goyette – Parker is the 2016 JDay Offroad Mini C champion. Parker is 12 years old and will ride a Yamaha YZ 85 contesting the JDay Offroad Mini B class in 2017. Parker will also contest select GNCC, Winchester Speed Park, NEMX and NESC events.
Today also marks the formation P27/Trail Jesters. This new Yamaha team will be managed by Paul Goyette and we look forward to introducing the team and sponsors at the upcoming JDay Offroad banquet on January 21, 2017.
Ross Mauri, Head Jester
I want to start the Chapter Two discussion by going back to the roots of Trail Jesters Racing. I will use the cover of the May 2013 Trail Rider magazine to both reflect on our past three years and also point the way forward for 2017. This is 13 year old Zack Toth on his way to the NETRA Hare Scrambles Big Wheel championship. Zack signed with Trail Jesters in January 2014 and has risen from having to tip toe to touch the ground on his KTM 250 to being the NETRA A250 champion in 2016.
So in keeping with the path Zack paved … I looked for and found several young New England rippas from ages 12 to 16 that will be joining our program. Our 2017 program will be structured into two distinct Trail Jesters rider categories … and we will also spin off a new complete team.
The first category will be know as Trail Jesters Athletes. These are riders who race under the banner of another team, but still get direct support from Trail Jesters. Jimmy Decotis (FC Geico Honda) and Josh Toth (AmPro Factory Yamaha) are the first two racers announced in this new category. There will be more #TrailJestersAthletes announced in the coming weeks.
The second category are the six team members of Trail Jesters KTM Racing. 2017 KTM team announcement is here. I am very pleased that with this team we can build our relationship with KTM North America and bring together a set of top New England off road riders to race at both the national and regional level.
The third piece of this puzzle will be the spin out of a new team of young talented New England riders. We will announce this new team in January.
Stay tuned … chapter two of Trail Jesters has just begun!
Ross Mauri, Head Jester